Column By: JORDAN DELUCIA / XTREME DIRTCAR SERIES – LAVONIA, GA – Break’s over. The Drydene Xtreme DIRTcar Series is back in action this weekend with a doubleheader at Lavonia Speedway.
The stars of the Southeast Super Late Model racing scene will converge on the familiar red dirt surface for two separate 40-lap, $5,000-to-win shows this Fri-Sat, Feb. 25-26, for the fourth and fifth races of the 2021-22 campaign.
Lavonia has been a stop on the Xtreme circuit in each of its first two seasons, spawning two different winners – Zack Mitchell won in 2019 and Michael Brown took the checkers in 2020. If completed, this will be the first two-day stretch of action at the same track in Series history. This will add a unique element not yet seen on the tour, giving teams the opportunity to improve on their performance from the first night on the same track.
Stock 8s and 602 Chargers join the Super Late Model program on Friday, while Modified Streets and 602 Late Models will support on Saturday. Tickets will be on sale at the gate each day; gates open at 4pm Friday and 3pm Saturday.
Here are the drivers to watch for and the storylines to follow this weekend…
TOP DOG – Current Series points leader Ross Bailes takes an eight-point lead into the weekend, aiming for his second career regional Super Late Model championship and first with the Xtreme Series.
He’s been strong at Lavonia over the past 12 months, winning two of his last three starts at the three-eighths mile. He conquered former Xtreme Series winner Michael Brown in a 40-lap, Carolina Clash-sanctioned event at the track last April, then came back in July and scored another win against several of the same Southeast Super Late Model regulars he’ll face again this weekend.
BACK IN THE SADDLE – Super Late Model rookie Carson Ferguson continues his chase for the championship after a couple of weeks out of the driver’s seat.
Ferguson took a Derek Dent-owned, Crate-engine Late Model to Victory Lane at Golden Isles Speedway in late January to kick off his Georgia-Florida Speedweeks run, followed by an appearance at All-Tech Raceway in the Paylor Motorsports #93 Super Late Model the following weekend. He again showed strength against a national-level field, qualifying for two of three Features he attempted that weekend.
FLASHBACK – Sitting 13 points out of first place, Ben Watkins has a big opportunity to make up ground in the standings this weekend at a track he’s had prior big-stage success at.
The 33-year-old racer from Lancaster, SC, scored the biggest win of his career last September at Lavonia, defeating the big guns of the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series in a 40-lap shootout for $10,000. He led every lap and held off Rookie of the Year Tyler Bruening and defending Outlaws champion Brandon Sheppard to do it.
Though he’s never competed with the Xtreme Series at Lavonia, finishes of second, sixth and fourth in the first three races thus far have poised him to be up front once again.
GOIN’ DOWNTOWN – The last time the Xtreme stars visited Lavonia, Michael Brown went to Victory Lane and claimed his first career win with the Series. He’s projected to defend the trophy this weekend against many of the same names he beat that day.
His first outing of 2022 did not go as expected – dropping out after two laps of the Winter Freeze event at Screven Motor Speedway – but the McLeod Racing #2,4-D team does have two top-five finishes in two Xtreme starts thus far and is poised to back them up at Lavonia.
WHITE/BLUE DEBUT – Cody Overton is expected to make his Xtreme Series debut this weekend behind the wheel of the Jeff Mathews Motorsports Rocket Chassis #97.
The 25-year-old from Evans, GA, is taking on his first full-time year of Super Late Model racing after several years in the Crate-engine ranks. He’s looking to build off a Georgia-Florida Speedweeks campaign that saw him make multiple Features against a slew of national-touring stars. It’s back to the red dirt, Southeastern facilities he’s more used to racing on this weekend, which should put him right in the hunt for a Super Late Model win.